Sheriff’s ‘special investigators’ rid outer East Portland Streets of heaps of drugs

See how just three cases, in a little over a week, illustrates the effectiveness of this special team with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in busting drug operations – including a working meth lab …

This is what about 2.2 pounds of brick cocaine looks like. Thanks to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit, this dope – and its sellers, aren’t on the street. MCSO photo

Story by David F. Ashton
When the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Special Investigations Unit (SIU) goes after dope dealers, they’re typically looking for big time operators.

Apparently, a large quantity of illicit substances have been flowing into the East Portland area, because the SIU team has been busy – they’ve made three major busts within a week.

On July 19, the first story started when members of the SIU team made a substantial cocaine bust.

“Acting on a tip, investigators conducted a traffic stop in NE Portland on a vehicle occupied by two Hispanic males suspected of dealing cocaine,” MCSO Public Information Officer Lt. Steve Alexander began.

“SIU narcotics K-9 ‘Ellie’ discovered small amounts of cocaine hidden under the passenger seat of the vehicle,” Alexander continued. “SIU investigators followed up the investigation going to the suspect’s Southeast Portland residence.  At the residence, they found approximately one kilo (2.2 lbs) of cocaine. It was unique in that it was stamped with a logo similar to a brand name.”

These seized items – looking like a complete “cocaine dealer’s kit” – were found at the alleged drug dealer’s residence in SE Portland. MCSO photo

The cocaine has a street level value in excess of $100,000, the MCSO spokesman added. “That kilo represents as many as 4,000 street level deals.”

But, that’s not all they found, Alexander continued. They also discovered two handguns – one of them stolen in Portland. Investigators came upon and confiscated a trove of fake and forged identification documents, too.

29-year-old Jorge Antonio Vela and 29-year-old Jose Efrain Bautistacetina racked up numerous charges when they were picked up for allegedly selling cocaine. MCDC photos

“Jorge Antonio Vela was arrested and charged with Possession, Distribution, and Manufacture of Cocaine as well as Theft of a Weapon,” Alexander detailed. “In addition Jorge Vela had two outstanding warrants for DUII from Multnomah County.” He remains in custody, according to MCDC records.

Jose Efrain Bautistacetina was arrested and charged with Possession, Distribution, and Manufacture of Cocaine, Alexander reported. He also remains in custody, according official records, on both these charges as well as on a US Immigration Service hold.

Next day, a “hash” bust

When marijuana is processed down to a more potent form, it turns into “hash” – here’s two pounds of the potent drug. MCSO photo

On July 20, the SIU team was out on another mission.

This time, they traveled out for a rendezvous with an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program caregiver, at SE 162nd Avenue and SE Division Street. They met in a parking lot, a little before noon.

Working undercover, Alexander recounted, a SIU team member negotiated and arranged to purchase two pounds of hashish – a highly-concentrated form of marijuana.

This sure doesn’t look like a butter knife. SIU team members say the suspected hashish dealer told them he carries it for protection. MCSO photo

“When SIU investigators moved in and made the arrest, the suspect was found to be carrying a large 8 inch knife,” Alexander said. “Another person in the vehicle at the time of the arrest was questioned and released at the scene. The suspect stated he carried the knife for his protection, and brought along a friend in case he was robbed.”

MCSO SIU team members accuse this man, 30-year-old Michael Allen Conway, of attempting to sell an undercover agent a lot of hashish. MCDC photo

“Michael Allen Conway was lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center, and charged with Delivery of Marijuana with Consideration, and Possession of Marijuana,” stated Alexander.

Conway told the officers that he is a white supremacist, Alexander said, and he had multiple tattoos identified with white supremacist groups. By the way, deputies say that two pounds of hash has an approximate street value of $18,000.

According to MCDC records, Conway was released on July 25 into a “Pre-Trial Supervision Program”.

Special Investigators raid suspected Gresham meth lab

Here’s something you don’t want to see in person. It’s what officials say was a working meth lab, in the final stages of processing the chemicals into the street drug. MCSO photo

Then, in the Rosewood Initiative area at 17257 East Burnside, the MCSO’s SIU squad rushed Apt #308 on July 25, just before midnight.

This kitchen-based lab had been in the final states of the extraction process of “cooking up” a batch of methamphetamine (meth), Alexander reported.

With these chemicals and household products, an amateur pharmacist was attempting to manufacture methamphetamine, just east of the Portland/Gresham border. MCSO photo

“Upon entry into the apartment, a firearm was seen lying in plain view. Officers quickly secured the residence, and took five males and two females into custody,” described Alexander. “The alleged [meth] ‘cook’ splashed chemical into his eyes. Deputies immediately treated him with an emergency eye wash.”

Officials charge 53-year-old Lance Mitchell Gerber with manufacturing meth in an East Burnside Street apartment. MCDC photo

After identifying the scene as an active drug lab, officers cleared the apartment and activated HazMat Team 3, made up of Gresham Fire, Gresham Police, and MCSO deputies, to respond to the location and begin decontamination of the people in custody and of the apartment, Alexander reported.

“Lance Mitchell Gerber is charged with Manufacturing of Methamphetamine and Possession of Methamphetamine. The investigation is continuing and additional charges could be added,” revealed Alexander. “After being decontaminated at the scene, Gerber was transported to a local hospital for evaluation, and then on to Multnomah County Detention Center to be booked.”

Gerber remains in custody on at least $100,000 bail, according to MCDC records.

On into the wee hours, a HazMat team continues to take contaminated items from the apartment where they say meth was being manufactured. MCSO photo

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland New

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